The big lessons from Super Tuesday

What’s next for Nikki Haley, Biden’s ‘uncommitted’ threat & more

A voter cast her choice for the Republican presidential candidate on a slip of paper during the Republican Caucasus at Wasatch Elementary school in Provo, Utah on Super Tuesday, March 5, 202 (Getty Images)
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It’s (basically) officially over: former president Donald Trump and President Joe Biden will face off again this November. Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, the only remaining viable challenger to Trump, dropped out of the race this morning after eking out just one Super Tuesday victory in Vermont’s open primary. (And Biden challenger Dean Phillips suspended his campaign as well). It wasn’t exactly a surprise. One of her biggest donors, Americans for Prosperity, pulled support last week; she had no public events scheduled in South Carolina as reporters holed up in hotel rooms rather than flocking to watch parties,…

It’s (basically) officially over: former president Donald Trump and President Joe Biden will face off again this November. Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, the only remaining viable challenger to Trump, dropped out of the race this morning after eking out just one Super Tuesday victory in Vermont’s open primary. (And Biden challenger Dean Phillips suspended his campaign as well). It wasn’t exactly a surprise. One of her biggest donors, Americans for Prosperity, pulled support last week; she had no public events scheduled in South Carolina as reporters holed up in hotel rooms rather than flocking to watch parties, and she was eerily quiet for hours as results poured in.

Haley’s sole win before Tuesday night came from DC — her voters there described themselves as more “sophisticated” and “dialed-in” than the average GOP primary voter — and of course she performed well in consultant and government contractor-heavy northern Virginia and other regions with highly-educated, wealthy populaces. This spoke to Haley’s fundamental problem. Cobbling together the political class, college-educated suburbanites and Democrats who hate Trump so much they would opt out of their own party’s primary just doesn’t add up to that many votes in a primary electorate that is dominated by multiracial working class folks and white evangelical Christians. GOP voters also proved they weren’t swayed by Haley’s electability argument — why would they when polls consistently show Trump leaping ahead of Biden in key swing states? 

An important question moving forward is which candidate, if any, will inherit Haley-sympathetic voters. They might not make a huge difference in a GOP primary, but in a general election where most Americans are dissatisfied with a binary Trump-Biden choice, they matter much more. Spectator editor-at-large Ben Domenech notes in his column today, “These voters are the reason Glenn Youngkin, Brian Kemp and other Republican politicians who kept Trump at arm’s length were able to win, even over his animosity. As much as Republicans are used to threading the needle on these close national elections, Trump winning them over will dramatically increase his paths to victory.” 

Ben notes that Trump’s tone will matter to these voters, as it did in the 2020 race when Biden successfully painted himself as the “return to normalcy” candidate. I agree tone is important, but less so now when a Biden presidency is no longer an intangible; voters now have a direct comparison between what life was like under Trump and what it’s like now under Biden. “Mean tweets” — a term the right uses as a distillation of Trump’s supposed personality defects — perhaps seem less important when compared to a faltering economy, a border invasion, multiple foreign conflicts, crime-ridden cities, the specter of Biden family corruption and a president seemingly mentally incapable of handling any of it. 

As Charles Lipson writes in his analysis of the coming Trump-Biden fight, “Trump’s best ‘positive’ argument is the one Reagan used so effectively against Jimmy Carter, ‘Are you better off now than you were four years ago?’ His best negative argument is that Biden has made you worse off economically, flooded the country with illegal immigrants, and will give way to President Kamala Harris sometime during his second term.” 

-Amber Duke

On our radar

SOTU READY President Joe Biden reportedly spent the weekend at Camp David preparing for tomorrow’s State of the Union address to Congress. He was joined by a group of senior advisors and a historian.

GOP NOTCHES SPENDING WINS Republicans have scored two victories related to the latest spending package: due process for veterans who risk having their guns taken away due to the VA deeming them “mentally incompetent” and removal of funding for an LGBT center that hosts extreme BDSM sex parties. 

HOUTHIS KILL TWO The Iran-backed rebel group is said to be responsible for the death of two Barbadian sailors after targeting the True Confidence cargo ship with missile attacks. 

How the GOP could take advantage of ‘uncommitted’ 

Super Tuesday might not have delivered many eye-popping results — outside of a no-name entrepreneur winning the Democratic primary in the American Samoa or Haley capturing Vermont — but the anti-Biden “uncommitted” campaign has proven to have more staying power than most anticipated. 

In Minnesota, the uncommitted vote reached 19 percent while Biden’s named challengers in that state pulled an additional 10 percent, leaving the incumbent president with just 70 percent of the vote. Last week, Michigan, another state with a very politically active Arab American population, saw “uncommitted” grab about 13 percent. In other states that allow for no preference voting, such as Massachusetts and North Carolina, about 10 percent of voters opted to express their dissatisfaction with Biden.

This is a worrisome trend for the president’s campaign. It confirms that one of Biden’s most concerning challenges comes from the left. To the dismay of the Democratic Party, pro-Palestine leftists managed to quickly and independently organize a legitimate protest movement. Imagine the damage this issue could cause if weaponized by Republicans. 

Democratic donors are obsessed with tactics like this. They consistently aid the campaigns of Republican primary candidates who they believe are unpalatable to general populations and prop up fake “conservative” groups, like the Lincoln Project, which mostly attempt to lower enthusiasm and turnout on the right. 

While Republicans are no strangers to successful negative campaigning, the Israel-Palestine conflict presents an opportunity like no other. It’s an issue about which Biden’s energetic progressive base cares deeply and they have demonstrated a willingness to hurt him electorally if he doesn’t adjust his policy to favor Palestine. 

A central aspect of Republicans’ 2024 general election strategy should be to expand the uncommitted trend nationally, especially in swing states like Michigan. They can target ads touting Biden’s pro-Israel stance to progressive voters and financially back far-left-presenting groups that depict the president as a neoconservative genocide-enabler. More cynical ideas could include having consultants elevate the likes of Cornel West. But the most efficient use of money would be to make progressives want to stay home as opposed to turning out for any particular Biden alternative. They need to convince progressives that it’s more important to hold Biden accountable for aiding and abetting war crimes than it is to stop Trump from stealing democracy (the favorite line from the vote-blue-no-matter-who crowd). 

With Trump fixating on immigration (the most popular issue of the day) and moderating on abortion (the most motivating issue for Democrats), the former president is effectively pursuing independents while retaining his base support. This alone goes a long way; if accompanied by a massive campaign against Biden from the left, the advantage could grow even larger.

Juan P. Villasmil

Super Tuesday’s biggest down-ballot results 

While Nikki Haley’s Vermont victory wasn’t enough to keep her in the presidential race, there was a ton of down-ballot action that flew under the radar. Last night saw everything from establishment wins in both parties to massive black eyes:


The Golden State’s elections were highlighted by the Democrats’ rejection of identity politics, spurning a black, lesbian ex-Marylander in favor of a straight, white, cisgender, heteronormative man. Adam Schiff defeated two trailblazing female Democrats, Barbara Lee and Katie Porter, in the Democratic primary to fill the late Senator Dianne Feinstein’s seat. He will advance to the general against former MLB all-star Steve Garvey. 

Schiff had, to put it lightly, an ungodly amount of money to spend, and Porter’s resources were drained last cycle following a closer-than-expected reelection bid against Scott Baugh. A shortage of money may not have been Porter’s biggest problem, though. One California Republican strategist noted that “the fatal mistake of the Katie Porter Senate campaign was successfully meeting thousands of voters, who were then determined to keep her from the Senate.”

The strategist added that in Washington, DC, Katie Porter was “considered a thoughtful person; in California, she’s considered a nut. It shows who’s out of touch — whackball California? No, DC is out of touch.” Democrats, he noted, “love diversity until they think it may cost them a Senate seat,” at which point, their slate of candidates is whiter than a “Taylor Swift night out on the town.” 

While Nancy Pelosi got Schiff across the finish line in the Senate race, Democrats also have to reckon with having an allegede drunk driver as their candidate in one of the most competitive House races in America. State Senator Dave Min beat out his competitors even though liberal groups spent millions trying to nominate someone with better driving habits. EMILYs List in particular made defeating Min a “top priority,” only to see their candidate come in a distant third.

In California’s Central Valley, Republican David Valadao proved that his vote to impeach former president Donald Trump wouldn’t cost him significantly in primaries. Thanks to some assistance from groups like the Congressional Leadership Fund, Valadao comfortably advanced to November’s general election. 

North Carolina

The Democrats have a history of successfully meddling in GOP primaries, but Republican attempts to return the favor failed in this southern swing state. In the race for attorney general, Republican groups spent heavily to boost a progressive Democrat who flamed out in the primary against TikTok star/Congressman Jeff Jackson. The GOP establishment, meanwhile, got their gal in retired Colonel Laurie Buckhout, who vanquished perennial candidate Sandy Smith in a tossup race. 

Groups such as CLF spent heavily for Buckhout due to concerns over Smith’s history of both electoral losses and domestic violence and Republicans were over-the-moon that their primary intervention paid off. Buckhout won with a surprisingly small margin, meaning every dollar likely made a difference. Her win makes the district “a top-tier pick-up opportunity,” NRCC’s spokeswoman Delanie Bomar told me. 


The night’s biggest winner was Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose revenge tour against Republicans who voted for his impeachment saw several of them lose outright, and several more, including House Speaker Dade Phalen, forced into runoffs. Elsewhere, Dinesh D’Souza’s son-in-law, Brandon Gill, won an open House seat primary and is poised to come to Congress in January. Representative Dan Crenshaw saw a closer-than-expected renomination fight, and Tony Gonzales, who was censured by the state’s GOP for his vote for a gun control bill, is heading to a runoff against a YouTube gun show host.  On the Democratic side, establishment pick Colin Allred won his race but showed some concerning weak spots as he heads into the general election against Senator Ted Cruz. Allred lost almost every single county in southern Texas to Hispanic challengers Roland Gutierrez and Mark Gonzalez. President Joe Biden similarly struggled in these areas, only pulling in simple pluralities in multiple counties. Armando “Mando” Perez-Serrato, who promises on his campaign website to send the military to the border, charge Trump with treason (“Constitution states the penalty is death!) and recall Gavin Newsom (“America’s most corrupt governor”), held the president to under 50 percent in Starr and Zapata counties despite having seemingly zero name ID or campaign infrastructure. 

It’s almost embarrassing as Biden losing the American Samoa caucus to whoever Jason Palmer is. But it’s far less humiliating than simply being Dean Phillips, who lost in his home state to “Uncommitted” before calling it quits this afternoon.

Matthew Foldi

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